I have been working on a project recently that required going through 1000s of criminal defense attorney websites across the United States. Now I realize there are some “rules” on exactly how attorneys can advertise and what they can, and cannot, say in those advertisements. One thing is obvious though from looking at these sites. Either attorneys are overly cautious with their websites or the Internet is simply not an area where they feel they should devote marketing dollars.
As phonebooks fade into the history books, more and more people use the Internet to find businesses. Personally, and I know I am not alone in this thought, when researching a business and deciding whether or not to do business with them, my first impression is their website. If the site looks like something from the mid-1990s and doesn’t look like anyone has put a thought into updating it since then they are most likely going to get skipped over. Now this doesn’t mean I am looking for some big fancy website, but at least tell me about your firm, the types of cases you specialize in, about yourself and other attorneys working in the office, where did you go to school, do you have any big cases that I can reference, and most importantly where are you located and how do I contact you. Please remember that potential clients are looking for your services because they have encountered events that could potentially change the rest of their lives. Either they or a family member are now tasked with finding an attorney and they want to make the best decision in a limited amount of time. I ask that you please give them as much information to base that decision on.
With that said, here are some interesting observations I made:
- Approximately 7 out of 10 have an outdated design or limited functionality. Many of the sites I looked at didn’t even fully work. Links were dead. Menus navigating to 404 pages.
- Approximately 8 out of 10 do not have email addresses available for the office or attorneys. While I understand you don’t want to have someone misinterpret having an attorney/client relationship through email, some potential clients may have a general question they want answered about your firm or services. Even providing a default email that goes to an office admin or paralegal can go a long way to attracting those clients. Contact forms are one thing, but not everyone wants to fill out a form and sometimes just shooting an email over is a whole lot easier.
- Approximately 2 out of 10 don’t even list the attorney’s name on the site. What is the purpose of the website if you are not even going to put your name on it? I understand you want the firm’s name on there, but at least tell me who I am going to be hiring.
- Approximately 5 out of 10 use generic templates created by Yellowpages or similar services. I have nothing against a Yellowpages site. But at least utilize the features available. The majority of the sites I looked at that use these generic services don’t bother to list contact information, attorney names, or even a brief description of the types of services that offered.
- Approximately 8 out of 10 are not mobile friendly. One thing I have learned from this project I am working on is that the majority of individuals searching for criminal defense attorneys use mobile devices. What is worse about this observation though is I also included sites that didn’t even work in current desktop browsers.
- Approximately 2 out of 10 don’t list an address and/or contact information. If I am looking for an attorney, I want to know that the one I choose is at least in my area. If you do not provide an address and/or phone number I am moving on to the next listing.
- Approximately 2 out of 10 don’t resolve hostnames, have suspended hosting accounts, and/or other technical issues.
- Approximately 2 out of 10 of the attorneys had multiple websites. Some had Yellowpage sites that linked to their real site. I already found you on the Internet once, don’t make me dig across multiple domains and sites to get all the information.
I know there are several companies that specialize in designing websites for attorneys, but after looking at the sites that are out there I think this is a prime market for someone to come in and disrupt. One side note, I did notice there is a direct correlation between the size of the firm and the quality of the site. Also, small boutique firms that specialized in a niche of criminal of defense also had higher quality sites. I am by no means saying that the quality of an attorney’s website is a direct relation to the quality of the attorney. But I do think attorneys could do a better job overall of providing information to potential clients through their websites. I know if I was looking for a criminal defense attorney personally, overall site quality would play a role, and I am positive I am not alone.
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